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Metropolitan area for large self-representing SMSAs

Codes and Frequencies

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METAREA identifies a limited number of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA's) where households included in the survey were located. An MSA is a county or group of contiguous counties that contains at least one city with 50,000 or more inhabitants or includes a Census-Bureau-defined urbanized area of at least 50,000 inhabitants with a metropolitan population of at least 100,000. For further discussion of the definition of MSA's, see METRO (Metropolitan residence).

Information about whether the household was located in an identified MSA was added by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), not collected from respondents. Only a small minority of the MSA's defined by the Office of Management and Budget were identified by the NCHS. For example, the public use files for the 1980 census identified over 500 MSA's, but only 31 MSA's were identified in the NHIS public use file for 1980.

Whether a household was located inside an MSA or outside an MSA is reported in both METRO and MSASIZE. METRO also reports whether households in MSA's were located inside or outside the central city, and whether non-MSA households were classified as farms. MSASIZE classifies all MSA's (not simply those identified in METAREA) according to population size.

Beginning in 1985, REGION (which is also available for 1969-1984) was the smallest geographic area identified.


For 1969-1972, METAREA identifies 22 MSA's. For 1973 forward, METAREA identifies 31 MSA's.

The MSA's identified in the earlier period were also identified in the later period, but in some cases the label changed. "Los Angeles" became "Los Angeles-Long Beach"; "San Francisco" became "San Francisco-Oakland"; "Minneapolis" became "Minneapolis-St. Paul"; "Seattle" became "Seattle-Everett." In IPUMS NHIS, those MSA's which have a different label in the two periods are given a second-digit code of "1" for 1969-1972 and a second-digit code of "0" for 1973 forward. For example, "Los Angeles" is coded "21" and "Los Angeles-Long Beach" is coded "20."


  • 1969-1984: All households.


  • 1969-1984